When I arrived in China, the man in charge of my orientation informed me that my group would be enrolling in classes on Monday. This confused many of us because in America we had always enrolled months in advanced, and did not understand the concept of enrolling and attending a class on the same day. Naturally, I did what I thought was a decent job preparing for this ordeal—I had my class and room numbers written out, and was ready with my online ID numbers for digital enrollment at 1:00 PM when the servers open for enrollment.
I was nowhere near prepared enough. I was only vaguely aware that every other international student was in the same boat as me; huddling around a computer, waiting for the clocks on their computers to strike 1:00 PM.
The stress that followed this was something I would liken to participating in the running of the bulls. As several thousand students try to log in at the same time, the server crashed and no one I am with can get online. Then, we get online and realize that the server is still overwhelmed and no one I am with can enroll in a class. THEN, we try enrolling but several classes are already full. At this point I feel like I have been both trampled and skewered by the bull.
In the midst of this enrollment conundrum, I realize it is now 1:15 PM and my first class is in 15 minutes. Campus is 20 minutes away. I made it in 10. I am sure I brought great delight to bystanders as I ran down the busy streets, flapping my arms like some foreign bird and spitting out incoherent Mandarin between breathes trying to find my sub-building.
But I arrived. I sweated through my clothes [did I mention I thought wearing pants was a good idea?], and I looked greener than the freshest of freshman, but I arrived. I arrived just in time to hear that the professor was cancelling the first class, and that we could all go home.
These Things Make Good Stories
In short, today has been a different first day of school. I am only enrolled in three out of my five classes currently and the day had a rocky start. But two things come to mind: one, it will all work out. That’s not just me being an optimist, it’s me acknowledging that I am now participating in a VERY different academic system and it takes time to adjust to that. Two, this is much more exciting than a first day of school has ever been for me. Even my first day at OU pales in comparison.
Today felt like a dramatic fiasco when it first started, but when I take a moment for perspective I have nothing to complain about. I am taking a wet market tour/cooking class in the city on Wednesday, a full meal here costs $2.50 and I am currently drinking tea in the park next to some particularly chatty Shanghai natives that are making fun of me for writing with my left hand. What did you do on YOUR first day of school?
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